"We don't want to create a brand. We want to create a movement."
So said Dave Vincent, owner of the multi-venue clubbing collective Sankeys as DJ Mag sat opposite him over coffee in an Ibiza side street. Just two blocks away, the sounds of power drills, saws and late-night pizza delivery vans had finally silenced, the extensive refurb of Sankeys Ibiza was complete. We'd been shown around the club by David, the hour before: a 1,000 capacity Spektrum room was now insulated with a ceiling of hot LEDs - reminiscent of Sankeys seminal Manchester venue. Meanwhile the main room, a 2,000 + monster is "designed as almost a tribute to 90s raves," featuring hazard-tape covered pillars, black walls peppered with graffiti, and foam blocks on the walls in place of posters - "they're for sound reflection. It's part of our philosophy - sound over substance," David explains.
It’s been two decades since the opening of the original Sankeys Manchester, and a nod to a 90s raving heyday does appear to be a theme behind Sankeys ongoing campaign. The direction of that campaign is a challenge that Vincent appears to wrestle with daily. How do you create a multi-venue business (Sankeys former home was in Manchester, it also has regular pop-ups in London and New York) that can be mentioned in the same sentence as the likes of Ministry Of Sound or Pacha without it becoming a brand? "Other clubs talk about becoming a nightlife brand, a clubbing brand. We think that’s cheesy. The second you think like that, it takes something away from the ideal of a club, a night. We’re a movement, not a brand." Certainly Sankeys own residents are in line with the concept - Darius Syrossian tells us over Sankeys Terrace barbecue that evening that he recorded Sankeys 20th Anniversary mix album live, in one take, in the club - in step with the venue’s philosophy of ‘needing to really be there to fully experience it’. Season residents - painted in 7ft tall portraits along an outside wall, include Sidney Charles, Darius Syrossian and Jozef K, reflect a nod toward a more straight- up house edge at Sankeys own Tribal Sessions Wednesday nights, while Duke Dumont on a Monday, Amine Edge & Dance on a Thursday and strong alternate-house night Magna Carta every Saturday look set to launch the Sankeys movement firmly into Ibiza’s mindset.
DJ Mag headed down to night one and two of the launch parties - the first coinciding with the IMS and featuring NYC legend Danny Tenaglia, the second steered by Duke Dumont and Amine Edge and Dance. Upfront house, white vests and big, bright simple visuals were the order of the evening. Between that and smoking breaks in the graffiti laden terrace, there was a definite sense that Sankeys had tapped into a slightly older, original sense of a club night, of how Ibiza may have been years ago. Certainly any superclub intending to make it work out here has to have its niche, and it’s exciting to see a venue that’s shunning apps, multi-level visuals and glamorous projects in favor of BBQ’s and beefed up basslines. Whether it’s a movement or simply a reality check for the rest of clubbing, DJ Mag's a fan.
Words and Photo: Ally Byers